Joe Biden compares homophobia to cancer that killed his son: ‘This is a disease on America’

Joe Biden attacked the current administration’s record on LGBT+ rights and expressed strong support for the community at the annual gala of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) group in Washington on Saturday.

The former Vice-President’s speech aimed to send a message of hope and optimism at a time when the White House is promoting anti-LGBT+ policies, describing President Donald Trump as “a literal bully pulpit callously exerting his power over those who have little or none.”

In the address, Biden remembered his late son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, who died due to a brain tumour in January 2015, comparing the cancer that killed him to the “disease” of homophobia.

Beau Biden supported LGBT+ rights in delaware

In his position as the chief law officer in Delaware, Beau supported the state’s adoption of the Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act in June 2013 and of marriage equality in July 2013, two years ahead of the landmark Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

Biden said his son strongly believed in LGBT+ rights and the pursuit of equality, before adding: “He died of cancer. A terrible disease. We have a foundation that is trying to end cancer as we know it.

“This is a disease on America. The disease of homophobia. We can end it. We can save my grandkids, my great-grandkids and thousands and thousands of Americans. And the rest of the world will repair to the American standards.”

Joe Biden

Former Vice President Joe Biden addresses the Spring Equality Convention of Human Rights Campaign (HRC) March 6, 2015 in Washington, DC (Alex Wong/Getty)

Biden has been an long-time outspoken supporter of LGBT+ causes. He continued to do so during his time in the White House as President Barack Obama’s deputy and offered support for marriage equality in 2012, before Obama did so publicly.

In his speech at the HRC, Biden reflected his support for marriage equality came quite “late,” but that he had told the Obama team that, while he would no actively campaign for it, he would not censor himself either. “If I was asked I wouldn’t remain silent,” he said.

Support for LGBT+ youth

Now that the politician is able to focus on in philanthropic activities, the Biden Foundation launched a major campaign aimed at stopping parents from rejecting their LGBT kids.

“Too many of our young people are rejected, not just by their communities, but by their families. Blood of my blood, bone of my bone. Kicked out of their homes. Subject to the vile practice of gay conversion therapy that our vice-president promoted,” Biden said at the HRC gala.

Biden also addressed Seth Owen, the student whose teachers raised thousands of dollars via crowdfunding to allow him to attend college after his parents threw him out for being gay.

“Be strong. I am proud of you. I have your back. We have your back. The country has your back. Be proud,” Biden said.